Cramming for Oral Exams

April 13, 2004

Given that I myself am cramming for my PhD qualifying oral exams, I’m highly sympathetic to anyone who has step in front of a panel of potential inquisitors. For example, I’m highly sympathetic to the plight of President Bush, who tonight will be appearing a press conference… supposedly his first press conference to have been announced with more than 24 hours of lead time to the press. Judging from his quick remarks to reporters on Sunday morning, the President has a lot of cramming to do:

Q Just to follow up on that, Mr. President. There was, in that PDB, specific information about activity that may speak to a larger battle plan, even if it wasn’t specific. So I wonder if you could say what specifically was done, and do you think your administration should have done anything more?

THE PRESIDENT: David, look, let me just say it again: Had I known there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can. My job is to protect the American people. And I asked the intelligence agency to analyze the data to tell me whether or not we faced a threat internally, like they thought we had faced a threat in other parts of the world. That’s what the PDB request was. And had there been actionable intelligence, we would have moved on it.

I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to in the PDB, but if you’re referring to the fact that the FBI was investigating things, that’s great, that’s what we expect the FBI to do.

A humble suggestion, Mr. President: If you’re trying to counter allegations that you were negligent in the leadup to 9/11 that are stemming from the declassification of a document that everyone in Washington is closely examining, you probably don’t want to imply…

1) … you haven’t recently reread that document,

2) … your approach to the FBI in your #1 job of protecting the American people resembles nothing so much as Homer Simpson’s approach to being safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Plant (“Hey you, stop being… so unsafe! Smitty! Safen up!”)

Best of luck, Sir. Lord knows we both could appreciate some.

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